The sun coming out is a lovely symbol of emerging from dark times and a return to brighter days. Enjoy the outdoors safely — and remember to protect your skin from those rays!
By Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD
Who can resist that adorable song from the musical Annie? It popped into my mind in March 2020, when my husband, plastic surgeon Robert Gotkin, MD, and I made the difficult decision to temporarily close down our medical practice in New York City and Long Island because of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus.
We weren’t sure for how long it would be, but we needed to do our part to help “flatten the curve.” We had no emergency cases pending, and we didn’t want to put our patients or our staff members at risk if we didn’t have to.
Now summer is in full swing, and the sun has come out — literally, if not figuratively. While cases in New York have dropped to a point where Dr. Gotkin and I have been able see patients again part time, in many states, the virus has shown a frightening resurgence.
The sun coming out is a lovely symbol of emerging from dark times. It reminds us of carefree summers and growing gardens and a return to brighter days. We all want to return to “normal,” whatever that means to each of us. It feels good to get outside with friends and feel like you’re still able to participate in some of your favorite summer activities, whether in the backyard, at an outdoor restaurant or at the shore. I hear you! But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t remind you that it doesn’t mean a free pass to make up for lost time when it comes to baking in the sun without protecting your skin. That will not make your skin healthier. In fact, just the opposite.
I beg you to heed the warnings of The Skin Cancer Foundation and what we truly believe: that you must protect your skin from the damaging effects of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. It can cause mutations in your skin that can cause skin cancer (and the signs of premature aging, too). By all means, take a walk in the woods or sit on a beautiful beach with an umbrella over your head, wearing your Active sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Get outside and live your life. Just take all the precautions, to protect your loved ones from the virus and also to protect your own skin. See our Daily Sun Protection Guide for tips and reminders. Also, please remember to look for anything new, changing or unusual on your skin — our self-exam guide can help.
Don’t put off till “Tomorrow, tomorrow…” what you can do today. It might save your life!
Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, is a clinical professor of dermatology in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU School of Medicine. Cofounder and codirector of Cosmetique Dermatology, Laser & Plastic Surgery LLP in Manhattan and Long Island, Dr. Sarnoff is also president of The Skin Cancer Foundation.